“O Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fire of Hell, and lead all souls to Heaven – especially those in most need.”
– Our Lady of Fatima
Like all good mothers, the Blessed Virgin Mary cares very deeply for Her children. She is concerned for our welfare – in the physical realm, certainly; but particularly in the spiritual realm, as this is where our welfare is most important.
And like all good mothers, She wants to give us little treats and gifts which are pleasing to the eyes and the hearts of us, Her children.
All the while, She knows that we are poor and fickle, forgetful and inconstant, even despite our very best intentions. And so, She makes Her little gifts as pleasing to us as possible, so that we might more earnestly embrace them and so that they might do us the most good.
One such gift is the little prayer She taught the children at Fatima in July 1917 –
“When you pray the Rosary, say after each Mystery – ‘O my Jesus, forgive us, save us from the fire of Hell. Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need’.”
Our Blessed Lady knows that we are supposed to pray, as this ‘connects’ us directly to the divine; and She knows that we would like to pray – but She knows, too, that very often, for one reason or another, we simply do not pray.
There are a great many prayers which we could choose in order to pray – the Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Gloria, spring immediately to mind, along with numerous other short prayers.
There are also the ‘official’ prayers of the Church such as the Liturgy of the Hours – often seen as being only for the clergy, this prayer is actually for all the faithful. But it takes time, practice, dedication, perseverance – and how often we lack those!
Seeing our weakness, the Blessed Virgin suggests something very short, very beautiful and very simple – this little prayer which She gave us through three very young children. She asked us to pray it after each decade of the Rosary, so it must be an important prayer – otherwise, once for each full Rosary might have been sufficient.
In this little prayer, we acknowledge that we are sinners and deserving of Hell. We might not like to acknowledge this, but that is the reality – we are all sinners, who can rely on nothing except the mercy of God. And having acknowledged it, we can then ask for that forgiveness of which we are so desperately in need – and which is always poured out upon us so very liberally by the Almighy, time after time after time.
But this little prayer adds one further dimension.
It asks for the mercy of God not only for ourselves, but for all other sinners, too. And in asking this of God, we are performing a spiritual act of charity by praying for others. Our Blessed Lady has, then, not only encouraged us to be a little bit more prayerful, but also a little bit more charitable.
Mother are very well practised at being able to get their wayward children to do what they should have been doing already – and this is particularly the case when the mother in question is none other than the Mother of God.
Let us do as She asks.